How to respond when a person with dementia repeats themselves?
Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Dr. Porrselvi A.P., Founder and Cognitive Neuropsychologist, Unified Brain Health Care
Repeating themselves is one of the most common symptoms seen in dementia. It occurs in all stages of the disease. It is frustrating, annoying and perplexing for the caregivers when faced with this symptom.
So what do you do?
1. Understand. Dementia affects the ability to learn and remember. Things that are just said, done or discussed are often forgotten within a few minutes. The symptom may worsen over time.
2. Distract. Ask them about a loved one they remember or a memory they cherish or talk about something else that they will want to readily talk about or indulge in.
3. Give them some activity to do that they like doing.
4. Do not tell them that they just asked you a question or told you something. They don’t remember that they did and you will only increase their anxiety and frustration.
5. Shorter notice to an appointment helps. A longer waiting period may make them anxious about missing the appointment and thus cause repetitive questioning.
6. Display the date, digital clock somewhere they can see clearly and make it a routine for them to check the clock or date when they want to know the date or time.
7. Make it their routine to put a tick mark for meals and medicine doses they have had. That way they learn to keep track of their meals and medicines without questioning the caregiver.
8. Do not ignore or speak about their symptom as if the person is not present. They may not remember what you spoke but they will feel agitated and sad causing other behavioural or emotional consequences.
9. Most importantly, if you feel yourself getting frustrated- leave the room and return when you have calmed down.
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